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First Sunday of Advent - Endings and Beginnings

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Readings: Jer 33:14-16, Ps 25:4-5, 8-9, 10, 14, 1 Thes 3:12-4:2, Lk 21:25-28, 34-36

We start the story of the Church's New Year in a rather odd way. The story reads 'let's start at the very end', because we hear Jesus speaking about what will happen at the end of time. It doesn't make for cheery reading, and we would be forgiven for wanting a more celebratory start for a New Year. But, as the Gospel reminds us, this is no time for drunkenness. Instead we start with some sobering thoughts about what lies ahead.

Starting with the end is a very useful thing. Our lives are always full of goals, ambitions and destinations. They help to shape our lives and give them a sense of purpose. If we set out on a journey we need to know first what we might expect when we get to our destination. Then we can pack and make plans to suit that destination. There's no point taking thermals and a woolly hat if we are going to Barbados, for example. Also with the Christian life, it does us a lot of good to know about the end - that there will indeed be a final judgment. It helps us to know how we are to live our lives here and now in the present moment. We are to live our lives as people who are fully awake, fully alive, concerned about our salvation, wanting to be found worthy to be with our Lord in Glory.

With that in mind, the beginning of this New Year is a chance to take stock - to look back at the last year and think about the times when we were a bit drowsy, or of the times when we fell asleep altogether. Then we can draw lessons from those things which can help us to know how we can wake up and pay better attention to the good news that our 'redemption is at hand'.

Robert Gay O.P.


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